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Chapter Eight
THE ARTISTIC LIFE

I. THE ARTIST

I THINK of all phases of the Chinese civilization, Chinese art
alone will make any lasting contribution to the culture of the
world. This point, I think, will not be seriously contested.
Chinese science, in any case, does not make any pretensions,
although the Chinese empirical medicine provides a rich field
for medical research and discoveries. Chinese philosophy will
never make any lasting impression on the West, because Chinese
philosophy, with its moderation, restraint and pacifism, which
are all physically conditioned by the decrease of bodily energy,
can never suit the Western temperament, with its aggressive
exuberance and vitality.

For the same reason, the Chinese social organization will
never fit the West. Confucianism is too matter of fact, Taoism
too nonchalant, and Buddhism too negative to suit the Western
positive outlook on life. No people that are daily sending
meix to explore the North Pole or conquer the air or break
speed records cart become good Buddhists. I have seen a few
examples of European Buddhist monks, who talk altogether
too loudly and too vehemently to conceal the tumultuous
passions in their souls. In particular, I have seen one who, in
his energetic denunciation of the West, is willing to call down
fire and brimstone from heaven to burn up all Europe. When
Europeans put on Buddhist gowns and try to look calm and
passive, they merely look ridiculous.

Moreover, it would be unfair to judge the Chinese as a nation
without an understanding of their art. There are certain hidden
innermost recesses of the Chinese soul that can be known only
through its reflection in Chinese art, for, like Cyrano de
Beigerac, the extreme sensitiveness and fine feeling of the